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Community members reflect on Sept. 11, 20 years later

For the Monitor
Published: 9/11/2021 7:00:19 AM

During the afternoon of September 11, 2001, people began to come to the Canterbury Shaker Village until about 15 or 20 had gathered by the hillside near the Garden Barn, overlooking Turning Mill Pond. Some sat on the benches or on the ground, quietly trying to make sense of what had happened that terrible day. About 5 o’clock, the Revere bell in the Dwelling House tower began to toll, perhaps once a minute until dusk and all had left. To this day, no one knows who was pulling the rope that hangs in the central hallway that afternoon. Later, someone who was there said that the spirit of the Shakers who lived there for 200 years was still present and wondered.

■Robert O. Wilson, Hopkinton

On the morning of 9/11/2001, I was at our NH Infection Control and Prevention Epidemiology (NHICEP) meeting in Concord along with other infection preventionists from our state. I will never forget the shock and horror we experienced. It was surreal. The attack changed our professional lives forever — public health and emergency preparedness became part of infection preventionists' job descriptions. I went to the University of New Hampshire to study for my Master's in Public Health because of the attack. We had to learn about impending and very real threats of biological and chemical weapons, including anthrax, botulism, plague, tularemia and smallpox. Later we experienced the concerns of viral hemorrhagic fever, including Ebola.

We all had to become experts in monitoring and tracking cases and outbreaks of infectious diseases and stockpiling supplies of personal protective equipment, vaccines and antibiotics. We became very close with our friends at the NH Department of Health and Human Services and work closely with them to this day with COVID-19 cases. Lessons learned from 9/11 taught us how to be strong and resilient to manage the current pandemic. It is critical that we remember and continuously strengthen our commitment to basic public health infrastructure needs to remain prepared for future threats, whether man-made or naturally occurring. 9/11 changed us all and claimed our innocence and naivete.

■Lynda Caine, Loudon

Oh how this brings back memories. I was in 7th or 8th grade, living in Conway and going to Kennett High School. It was sunny and warm. I was standing outside of my class waiting for it to start and a friend told me what happened. I remember not believing him at first, then I saw the news. I remember the silence was so loud. The shock and awe of it all. I remember trying not to cry while I saw the second tower fall.

This was the day I realized the harsh realities of the world. The day that even tragedy can fall on America. My world and beliefs were shattered. Even though we had no clue at first the cause I knew deep in my gut it was some sort of attack. I think at first we were all speculating Russia.  That's the day I became a patriot. The day I truly learned the meaning of our national anthem and pledge of allegiance. The day I learned what it meant to support America and her soldiers, police officers, firefighters and everyone else that came to our need. I was humbled. No jokes. No humor. To this day I support my country and those that protect it from all evils both foreign and domestic. God bless this beautiful country.

■Robert Sirois, Epsom

I remember going to bed that night with the TV on and woke up trying to think of what to send my son for his birthday. I turned on the news. I lived in Yuma, Arizona at Yuma Proving Ground. Most active-duty there were special forces getting ready to retire and have been there and done that. I was a nanny for twin boys for an Army Ranger (E8) on his last tour before retiring. I was in college and taking care of the children while he finished his career. The world changed. We were attacked and they came onto our land. I am a Navy veteran and knew that living there with this family things could change on a dime. Fortunately, no one was deployed in our home and I remember going to the Military Ball shortly after and the admiral told them all that they are not afraid of us and they will continue to infiltrate our country.  A religious coup that knows no boundaries nor respect.

Of course, the base was on lockdown and high aware for a long time. People we knew died and were maimed by the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The only thing that gave me solace was to make spaghetti sauce and the song, "The Day the Music Died" by Don McLean. I did see the people jumping out of the towers, I called my pilot friends who had that route on Delta Airlines. Kind of felt like it was a threat that we now always have to live with. Then there is the pandemic and drug addiction. I had no idea this changed so much!

■Jacqueline Jaye Wallace, Allenstown

On 9/11/2001, I was working for Saudi Aramco and living with my family in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It was late in the afternoon there and we just returned from dinner in the ex-pat compound where we lived. Upon turning on the TV as we normally would after dinner, we saw on the news a scene of the Twin Towers on fire. At first, we thought it was a movie commercial, but then we saw the chyron at the bottom of the screen, and we knew the truth. We were up all night watching the news. The next day at work, everyone was in shock, Saudis and ex-pats, as we all were focused on computer screens and watched the ongoing coverage throughout the day.

■Paul & Linda Punturieri, Moultonborough

They went to work that day, so innocent and free. Taking for granted our unique liberty. Men and women, those unborn, leaving behind families and friends to mourn. None remotely suspecting their fate, but hours away, till it was too late.

 

Meanwhile travelers on planes numbering four, calmly got on board, thinking of the day ahead, not realizing in minutes they'd all be dead.

As reports said, with knives and box cutters the hijackers cruelly injured and killed surprised passengers, by men strong-willed. For no apparent reason it seemed at that time. But American blood was spilled, and people died. Why, such a senseless crime?

Then with cruel irony the terrorists 'allowed', doomed passengers a final good-bye call. Their words told, loved ones later shared, they knew their fate was near. Recorded messages, left frozen in time, calmly telling of lasting love. What else was on their minds?

 

Then, like those aboard, the phone lines went still. We know what happened next, they never will. As the planes hit their targets, thousands innocently died.

 

Now, upon reflection, hearts heavy with grief, We're no closer to feeling real relief. Not only were so many untimely taken, but fleetingly our freedom also was shaken.

 

Unlike the WTC which crumbled and fell, our faith is strong, our vision clear, we know what we must do. So fly those flags, sing patriotic songs. Let not so many have died in vain; God bless America, despite our searing pain.

A poem, written several days after 9/11

■Diane Lewis, Laconia

 




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